My husband was SO disappointed with this book. He was so disappointed that he actually had me post it here, and he's a total book hoarder! He said that it read like an outline and was completely lacking in the narrative prose that was so distinctive to Tolkien. While he was reading it, I suggested to him that we leave to go out to dinner and he said with great disdain, "Give me a few minutes. I want to see this character die. I've been anticipating it for so long." Definitely not a good sign. I gave it one star, just because he did manage to finish the book.
Really a lovely book, with not-at-all-cheesy, atmospheric b/w and color illustrations by Alan Lee. Worth mentioning, 'cause it's so rare to see a book with actual illustration these days it seems!
This, of course, is a story "put together" by J.R.R.'s son Christopher from Tolkien's copious unfinished writings. It's also featured in the Silmarillion, but this is a more complete version, including more details, and some revisions, about which Christopher Tolkien talks extensively.
As a novel, it's good, but not great ficton on the level of the Lord of the Rings. As Christopher notes, Tolkien's "other" tales tended to be written in a very distanced manner. They're supposed to be "ancient tales" and one gets that feeling from the story, as if a teller were relating a legend of long ago. It's similar to reading stories of the Mabinogion or the Eddas, or something from Arthurian lore.
The story itself lives up to that - it's high tragedy, and feels completely authentic. It really should be read by anyone who loves mythic fantasy. Still, it doesn't have the emotional immediacy - or the humor and charm - of Tolkien's better-known works.
My biggest gripe with this book is that CHristopher T. makes mention of the fact that Tolkien began writing two different forms of this story in verse, as well, and gives brief stanzas as examples. He says that they were unfinished - but also that they were epic-ly long. I really think that this volume should have included the poetic versions, perhaps as a long appendix.
Not all that readable, alas. Much better than The Silmarillion, but there's still something about the prose here that clearly shows it was assembled from notes rather than written as a cohesive tale. I loved The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, but nothing else by Tolkien has worked for me, including this one.
Ugh! This book is so DARK and depressing! After loving the LOTR books by Tolkien this was a complete let down. My husband read the book and disliked it also.
This book is a diffent turn in the typical tolkien writing. although it is good, when I didn't put into the same, exact grouping as Lord of the rings books